AKC Agility Equipment Regulationsby Jane Meggitt
See Spot run, jump, weave, seesaw and perform other tasks at the command of his handler. That's the thrill of an American Kennel Club agility competition. The AKC has specific requirements for the equipment used in its sanctioned events and in course design. While height requirements vary according to the size of the dog and difficulty level of the course, there are basic standards for materials and construction of all agility-course-related equipment.
AKC agility courses feature a variety of obstacles. A standard obstacle, the A-frame, consists of two straight, flat panels, with the top surface made of wood or another material that may be surfaced according to specifications. AKC regulations specify that these panel are between 35 to 49 inches in width, with a length of 8 feet, 10 inches. The standard A-frame height is 5 feet 6 inches, plus or minus 1 inch, with the smaller version at 5 feet.
Dogs competing in agility go through open or closed tunnels. According to AKC regulations, the open tunnel must consist of a durable material around a flexible tube between 10 and 20 feet long that may form into curves. The round openings at each end must have a width and height of 2 feet, plus or minus 2 inches. The AKC recommends a 4-inch rib spacing. The tunnel holder underneath the structure cannot be more than 1.5 inches thick. The entrance of the closed tunnel must be rigid, with solid material on the upper and lower portions of the chute. The closed tunnel should resemble a continuous barrel, without a flat top. The closed tunnel entrance section is 2 to 3 feet long, with an opening of 2 feet in height and width or 2 feet in diameter. The interior floor of the closed tunnel must have a nonslip surface.
The seesaw, similar to a child's teeter-totter, consists of a 12-inch-wide, 12-foot-long wooden plank or fabricated material supported by a base acting as a fulcrum. The base must extend a minimum of 2 inches beyond the plank sides, including a gap of not more than 4 inches, allowing dogs to view the pivot point. Ground support may be slightly wider. The plank must hit the ground in less than three seconds when a 3-pound weight is placed 1 foot from the high end, for calculating balance. All agility clubs must provide this weight and a stopwatch to determine accuracy.
During the weave-pole part of the competition, dogs weave in and out of a set of 12 poles with specific spacing and design. Made of furniture-grade PVC or standard 40 pipe with a 1-inch outside diameter, the weave poles must be 40 inches high. Spacing between each one is between 20 and 24 inches. A dog should never step on the pole's bracing during the weave, so right-side braces are located only on even-numbered poles and left-side braces on the odd-numbered ones.
- Agility 8 image by Conny Hagen from Fotolia.com